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In Depth

Michael Eric Dyson Series/Special. (2008) Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

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Us 10, U.s. 7, Jesse Jackson 5, America 5, Woodrow Wilson 3, Sam Cooke 3, New York 3, Robin Kelly 2, Aretha Franklin 2, Nelson George 2, Dodgers 2, Brown 2, Robin Callie 2, Montgomery Flagg 2, Motown 2, Detroit 2, Pennsylvania 2, Liz Leigh 1, Theodore Roosevelt 1, Gaye 1,
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  CSPAN    In Depth    Michael Eric Dyson   
   Series/Special.  (2008) Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.  

    August 15, 2009
    5:30 - 6:00pm EDT  

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"in depth" also includes a visit with the author to see where and how they write their books. that's what you're about to see. >> this is georgetown university. we are in healey hall and this is one of the great institutions of american higher education. volume honored and privileged to teach here. i have been here since july of last year. well, when i am working on a book especially one that is to mark an anniversary like the marvin gaye book or my book on tupac i tend to work in concentrated bursts of energy so i might put in 17 hour days depending defeat could depending upon their wrath of the editor and how much i miss my deadlines to that point, so i will get up in the morning and sit at the computer and i will go for like
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four hours, take a break, kick back, stretch a little late, and then sit right back down and go at it again, so i can work anywhere from a good ten to 17 hours a day when i am in that rhythm. .. was at the seminary, i regularly and routinely state
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until 6:00 in the morning. i definitely got my groove on, writing proved, there. as i moved up the ladder and could afford better computers, it afforded me the possibility of mobility on the road, especially at home. when i listen n.c. i could write a letter at the office that brown university. i wrote a lot in office and some at home. i moved to d.c. recently. they favor me well. and favor the writing life well. it is not driving full crazy, relatively quiet place to be able to get some work done. i do a lot when i have to sneak away because people know you there, don't mean to interrupt you. small interruptions that only last a couple minutes are not bad, but they accumulate.
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if i can get a kind of space where i am not being interrupted or people think i am away, no, mr. president, i am not here now. just a joke, you are a great guy. i really was not here. if you can get a significant period of time where people know that you are working and you have to be disturbed, that is beautiful. sometimes i can do it here but a lot at home as well. >> i read all these horror stories, a lot can be said about my work and research have its i have but 1 thing you won't give me saying is i must apologize because my research assistant wrote those 20 pages, and i have no idea why they didn't attribute them to the author.
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researchers do that? actually right for you? a draft chapters of your book? i could write 15 books a year! i could really get it done! i am on the spartan side, go to the library, you have to dig them up, the archives are in the mud. to extricate the knowledge of fossils from the ground. by researchers are preboard. what do they do? they go to the library and check out books for me and bring them to me. there are some books that are overdue. the tragedy is it is in their name. so now they harass me. why do they harass me? they are charging us, you make more money than we do. can you get the books back to the library? so they get all the books, all the articles, it is on going but in huge parts. i am pretty thorough when i draft out my perspectives for
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what i want. when i give a research student an outline of my chapters, the tactic descriptions, two pages, i lay out for them what i am looking for. in this chapter i want to do this or look at this or i want information about actuarial tables for black people in the nineteenth century, look at black mortality and friends. i am pretty specific about what i want and i want to be relatively detailed so researchers can focus on the very thing that i need. to test out my hypothesis and theory about certain things, get information driven by my own understanding of that point, it might be revised depending on what i find. they get all that stuff, bring me that in being -- big carts and i go at it. that i say thank you. then i go to work. i take excessive notes,
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transform those on the page into sections that i want to devote to particular chapters and as i write, i can cite in the creation of a particular chapter or section of the chapter, exhaustive notes leads to extensive pages, the yellow page or white page of a legal pad and as i begin to write, i integrate that material, those references into the text of my book. i am a stickler for revision. even when they are giving me the pages of the book, we can no longer revise, i am about revision. writing is rewriting, revision is revision. i believe you have got to get it right. you can never get it exactly right but you can more approximate. you can better approximate what it views you are trying to say.
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when you extract a paragraph after working all day, when you are working at your computer for 15 hour days and you have a paragraph, nothing is more dispiriting to a writer when someone says what you doing today? can i see the pages? pages? then it looks like you wrote a paragraph? you have been here for ten hours and you wrote a paragraph? it is so critical, so vital because the hit bone is connected to the shinbone and so on, you try to explain the mechanics of writing, like planning a seat in the ground and a week later, are you growing? so you are digging up the ground and interrupting the process of creation. that is what happens sometimes when people keep asking you how much did you get done? if you as an artist, as an individual, creator, writers, thinkers, intellectual, you have to have a standard you impose upon yourself that you are
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restlessly creative, and you are always striving for the right word, the right sentence, the right phrase to express what you are trying to gatt at and you can always say it better. you need to have an inexhaustible capacity or at least desire, the capacity may not match the desire but the desire to want to keep getting it until you get it right. over here, come into my office, these are some of the books. i got a lot more of them, thousands and thousands of books, most of them are at home and other offices. >> how many do you own? >> oh man, a few thousand. i don't know. five to 7,000 right now. my wife thinks that is a modest number. shea since i have 10,000 books.
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but i won't tell her. i have to get it better. this book right here was so important to me. this book, great negros, past and present, by russell adams. in the fifth grade, mrs. james, my teacher and i, i don't know where she is, she was a teacher, i don't know her first name. you don't know your teachers's first names. they are omnipotent. does not have a first name? mr god. this is james was extremely important because she taught about black history. the great cowboy, little brown baby, i remember my first blue-ribbon reciting poetry in the class of mrs. james in the summer. summer school is important. is introduced us to great black people in history.
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it was amazing. arizona's african discoverer, the first to die for independence, the mathematical wizard and inventor, this was a survey of black genius and creativity that made us believe we could do the same thing. she went to us to understand that the people in this book were people like us. >> what is important, the late marshal for 80, peculiarly gifted american writer, but about a subject that i cover in my new book on martin luther king jr. the most gift apostle of martin luther king jr. is jesse jackson. this book is a great book because it captures a great american. jesse jackson is a jeffersonian figure, the constant self recreation, perennial quest for the means to articulate an american ideal that is nurtured in his bosom privately that he wants to share with the world
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publicly. jesse jackson is an american original. i argue in my book that he makes love in language, the cadence is undulating rhythms that twist and turn, a very sensual where flesh and spirit meet. you take the measure of jesse jackson here, in the fullest biography of him. the late marshall frady was a great writer. raise rebels, robin callie in my mind is one of the great scholars ever produced in the african-american experience. in my generation of scholars, nobody is more talented and more gifted than robin callie. he is a genius of extraordinary
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gifts evidence people celebrating history from the bottom up. a brilliant painter was featured on in-depth recently, but robin kelly is renowned in this generation. the broader world might not know him walking down the street but for those of us within the academy, taking the line seriously, both as a career and a vocation, most especially revere this young man because he has done extraordinary work, the creativity, the lucidity, the poetry of his expression. love you, robin kelly. read all of his books, he is a smart guy. i am like a kid at christmas, i remember when i saw this book, a nation under our feet, this is a brilliant historian. the university of pennsylvania, this book won all kinds of
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awards, the bancroft award, nominated for the pulitzer. another brilliant historian, very able scholar. because historians take a lot longer than critics to get their work done because they are digging in a different venue. they are working with a different case, a different set of texts and ideas that nourished the work of those of us, if we do our work right. when i see a book like this i devour it, i read it and i say i am going to use that in the future for something else. i don't always agree with the utilitarian calculus or reading this book for this particular purpose. there are a few of us who read without the purpose of conversation with others, to be able to engage them. this is a great book, singing in a strange land, the black church and the transformation of america. this is one of the great
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creatures in the history of american rhetoric. aretha franklin, arguably the greatest sound to emerge out of a human vocal cord, reverberating, vibrating, maybe the greatest sound made, some would say others. sam cooke, maybe sam cooke and aretha franklin. but everything franklin, ingenious was nurtured by her father, reverend franklin. i used to listen to this man every night in michigan. if you don't die before you get a chance to hear this man preach, you don't have -- the son sermon in the african-american tradition, of the greatest preachers ever. he ordained jesse jackson. he marched with martin luther king jr. in detroit, where king
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delivered arguably, even more impressive version of his i have a dream speech in detroit. got to show love to the home town, the crib. skip gates's book was here next to nelson george, where did our love go? nelson george is perhaps the most gifted african-american man of the letters of our time. what can't this guy do? he is a novelist, he writes great novels, he writes superb cultural criticism about hip-hop, basketball, this history of motown, one of the earliest books to take a critical look and appreciative look at motown, he is a movie director, a film director, producer. the guy is amazing, one of the
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most remarkable men of letters of our generation, one of the most distinguished because he has mastered so many different genres. this book, the location of culture, than theoretical's but -- explications, postcolonialism, which is very important. he is a very sharp guy. he was in debt recently. he was on in-depth recently. i disagree with a lot of what he says but he is a very sharp guy. >> how many books do you read 3-year? >> a bunch. you have to keep reading. you can't stop reading. this is a great book. this is craig warner, higher ground, spv wonder, aretha franklin, the rise of african americans sold. i said the great sound of a human voice, arguably aretha franklin, and sam cooke, the
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greatest artist, i would argue. the genius of stevie wonder, the rhetorical command of the ideas, he was a politician and an intellectual at the same time in his music. this book right here, the undeserving poor, the war on poverty to the war on welfare off, another great historian at the university of pennsylvania. this man has done yeoman's work in trying to beat back the majority of the deserving poor. his work is brilliantly engaged. those people who would dismiss poor people as so many welfare queens and pathological people who don't deserve the kind of support that those of us who believe society should offer should give to them.
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this book, humphrey carter coverage this book, w. h. auden is one of my favorites. what a brilliant man. i was reading in the new york magazine, shall we say, a bit of pornographic poetry, he was a gay man. engaging in an act that can get some people arrested, certainly back in his day. one of the great poets of our time, i love his work. i read all of her work on poetry. i don't have any right here. brother haney year, the selected poems, another great poet of
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extraordinary gifts. his work, we got's work and live find to be thrilling, another gifted poet that i read, many of the younger poets, elisabeth alexander, informed from washington d.c. his poetry is so very important. these texts are part of the intellectual tradition that shaped me. i have done a lot of reading on these books, i have learned a lot from what you see. i have got to mention this guy right here. probably the greatest black intellectual in the western world. stuart hall. stuart hall is a genius of
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extraordinary capacity, nearly single-handedly creating the matrix within which black british cultural studies comes fourth, british cultural studies more broadly, has influenced people across the pond to an extraordinary degree of gracious at humane gentlemen and a man whose theater at -- theoretical work has shaped so many cultural critics who of the debt to the language and vocabulary he produced. these critical dialogue about stuart hall and certain articles by him and conversations with him are as important. this man is just -- a hallmark, and extraordinary benchmark for those of us who deal with cultural studies. the great book and a great man. >> thank you very much.
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>> in-depth airs live at noon eastern on the first sunday of each month on book stevie on c-span2. log on to booktv.org for information about upcoming guests. >> three days of peace, love and music, 40 years ago this weekend, have a million people gathered for woodstock. co-founder michael lane takes us behind the scenes tonight at 9:00 eastern on booktv. >> uncle sam wants you, world war i and the making of the modern american citizen. who was james montgomery flagg? >> james montgomery flagg is the man behind probably one of the most important images in american politics, the uncle sam wants you poster. he was a graphic artist in new york in 1910. in that period after the war started but before the u.s. was
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involved, he wanted america to be more involved, and he wanted to come with a perfect image that we get in the american military. he is the one who gave us this image of the uncle sam buts knew, that finger pointing and you. >> was he under contract to present that image? >> at that time he was working for a magazine, liz leigh's illustrated weekly, a popular magazine of the day. he was under a tight deadline to finish. he didn't have a lot of ideas. the story as we know it, particularly from his memoir, coming up with a picture of himself. working from the mirror, looking into the mirror, adding a few years to the image, putting on a funny hat and suit, that gave him the magazine cover. a year or so later, this became a recruiting poster. at the time he created it, it was not a government effort to recruit soldiers.
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it was a popular image that ran under a headline, what are you doing for preparedness? preparedness meaning getting ready in case you were drawn into the european war. >> was there a national effort in 1916 to get into world war i? >> there was. some people actually wanted the u.s. to enter, especially theodore roosevelt, who felt this was an international crisis, even a humanitarian crisis of civilization and the u.s. had an opportunity to be involved. others just wanted u.s. to be more prepared, have a larger army, have more capabilities in case the world events greg america into the war. than there were those who felt this was a european problem, that the u.s. should stay away from it. >> not a centralized government efforts. >> there was not a centralized government effort. woodrow wilson tried to avoid this as president because he worried that he would end up
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alienating voters on both sides. >> how did the u.s. get into world war i? >> despite woodrow wilson's efforts to keep america out of the war, he made a series of decisions that backed us into the war, particularly by giving slight preference to britain, by not trading with germany, and as the germans in spring of 1917 launched desperate last-minute gambit to win the war, knowing they're going to drag the americans into. the germans thought that the americans didn't have a big army, they didn't have a strong federal government, they would never get into the war and they should make a difference. that is one place where they were wrong. >> prior to woodrow wilson's decisions, what were the grass roots's separate efforts that got us into world war i? >> among the people who wanted the u.s. to be more prepared, was a group of people, most of them republicans, many disciples
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of the roosevelt, who set up a volunteer military training camps. one was in new york, often elite college students of the day would spend their summers training military officers, many of them became military officers. after the war, the rotc as we know it today, traces its roots back to this movement. >> was there a grass-roots movement to get into the war? was the war popular before the americans got into it? >> the war was popular with some people but one of the things most people forget about world war i was it is very divisive, both entering the war and how to fight the war after it starts. a lot of that decision has been forgotten since then. >> where did your book, uncle sam wants you, come from? >> it started with a group of people, on a footnote of another
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book i found reference to called slacker rage. slacker was the slaying term in world war i for draft dodgers. slacker raids were carried out by a group of volunteers, mostly middle-aged men overdraft age who would go around in cities and small towns and try to tracked down the draft dodgers in their community. i thought this is just unusual. people volunteering to and force the draft, literally 200,000 people were part of this group. i started by researching them and it became a bigger story about america and the federal government. >> what was the effect on the federal government of world war i? >> it was enormously transform a live. historians don't pay attention
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to that. never went back to the small size it was before. the mind set of a federal presence in everyday life for their regeneration to come. a new crisis came, whether it is the great depression or world war ii, the first world war was the previous image that others look at when they looked back at what the federal government should do. >> what is that previously? >> voluntary association, civil society, turn of the century, people are back into fraternal lodges, using voluntary sensibility to mobilize the population, mobilize the nation at a time when the state itself may not be that big. >> is that why you include the suffragists in this book? >> i do. the war is a crucial moment for women's organization, whether they were suffrage organizations
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or not, first of all, trying to find a place for themselves at a time when men's responsibilities are clearly stated, but women have to find their own place. hundreds of thousands of volunteer in various organizations on the home front, particularly in areas that were marked as women's spheres of activity, conservation and things in a home. >> why is it, i dunno if it was a rise in anarchy, a rise in domestic terrorism, instances of anarchist's during the year ago? >> there have been violence particularly around questions of labor for quite a while before the war. however one marks the turning point, me it is captured and road german. it appears everywhere in the script during the first world war. ..
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